NEW CITIGROUP TURNS TO 2 AGENCIES: MERKLEY, MCCANN CREATE BRAND ADS

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For the new CitiGroup corporate advertising, it turns out two heads were better than one.

Roster agencies Merkley Newman Harty and McCann-Erickson Worldwide, both New York, shared creative duties on the campaign, the first since Citibank and Travelers Group merged last year.

The TV effort, featuring spots from each shop, broke last week.

CitiGroup uses three agencies-McCann for Salomon Smith Barney, Merkley for Travelers and Y&R Advertising, New York, for Citibank. A company spokesman said Y&R also pitched to win the assignment, but CitiGroup executives preferred the Merkley and McCann ideas.

Originally, CitiGroup sought to have the branding campaign at one shop, but decided on two after reviewing the proposals. The branding work was assigned as a single project; no decision has been made about which agency will handle CitiGroup permanently.

Jonathan B. Cranin, McCann exec VP-executive creative director, North America, said while the two spots fit well together, they address different CitiGroup needs.

"Merkley's work answers 'Who are they?' and ours 'What will they do for the people they serve?' " he said.

RUNNING DURING MASTER'S

The spots were created to run during the Master's golf tournament that began last week. Travelers Group, and now CitiGroup, has been a 41-year-long exclusive co-sponsor, along with General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac.

Because of a short lead time, both agencies only had about two weeks to create the commercials. For Merkley, whose spots feature people all around the world, it meant a quick global excursion to Sydney, Hong Kong, London, Iceland, back to London, Spain and, finally, Morocco.

"It was a really amazing experience and great to pull off," said Andrew Chinich, Merkley executive producer. "And it works. [The spot features] everybody from all walks of life under one umbrella."

The campaign breaks amid new speculation about the Citibank account. The marketer is said to have approached the other roster shops about the possibility of helping Y&R on the account.

If Citibank were to add a second agency, it would be a striking reversal of its 1997 global consolidation. That move shocked both the industry and Citibank's agencies at the time-J. Walter Thompson USA, Lowe & Partners/SMS and Foote, Cone & Belding, all New York.

Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners was the only roster shop to escape the ax; it still

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